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Toyota shuffles its WRC manufacturer points scorers for Portugal

Takamoto Katsuta says he won’t have the “pressure” of fighting for World Rally Championship manufacturer points in Portugal with Toyota selecting Kalle Rovanpera and Sebastien Ogier among its points scorers.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Reigning constructor world champions Toyota will field both its part-time drivers in the same event for the first time this season in Portugal next week as it looks to widen its seven-point gap over Hyundai in the championship.

As a result, Toyota has nominated current world champion Rovanpera and eight-time world champion Ogier to score manufacturer points alongside this year’s title contender Elfyn Evans. Rovnapera has won the previous two Portugal WRC rounds, while Ogier is a five-time winner of the event – sharing the record for the most victories with Markku Alen. It means the team’s other full-time driver Katsuta will be fighting purely for driver points on Portugal’s gravel roads.     

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala stated at the start of the season that the manufacturers crown was the team’s first objective and says the championship’s new points system has made harder to make an impact. 

“It will be great to have all four of our drivers with us in Portugal. This year we wanted to bring them all together on at least one rally and this was a good opportunity to do it,” said Latvala.

“With the new points system, it’s been difficult to make big differences in the manufacturers’ championship so far. In Portugal we will have three drivers that have won the event before, plus Taka who has also been very fast, so it’s a strong line-up for this rally.

“Kalle has been very successful there the last two years, while Seb has won it five times before. Elfyn’s road position could be more challenging, but he just needs to keep concentrating on maximising his points against his championship rivals.

“Taka has also been driving very well and has the capability to fight for the podium. But we know the competition will be strong and I’m sure it will be another big fight for the top positions in Portugal.”

While Katsuta says he won’t have the “stress” of fighting for manufacturer points, the Japanese driver has a podium in his sights having come close on two occasions in the past, finishing fourth in 2021 and 2022.

“Portugal is basically my favourite rally of course and I will try to do my best,” Katsuta told Autosport.

“I’m not scoring points for the team so there will be no stress and no pressure. I will try to do the maximum that I can.

“My main target is to get a podium as I have finished fourth twice there. If the pace is really good all weekend I will try to push as much as I can.”

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